By Keith Eddings
---- — LAWRENCE — A city cop facing unspecified criminal charges in Florida has been placed on leave, the fourth officer to be sent home without his gun — but with his paycheck — in two years.
Police Chief John Romero yesterday would not describe the allegations against Carlos Gonzalez, a member of the department since 1988, but said they are serious enough to justify removing him from active duty until he is either cleared or charged by the law enforcement agency investigating the allegations.
Romero also would not identify the agency investigating him, but said he expected the agency will act quickly. He was put on leave Dec. 17.
“He’s on paid administrative leave by the department pending the outcome of the investigation by a jurisdiction outside the commonwealth of Massachusetts for an incident alleged to have occurred in that jurisdiction,” Romero said. “Upon completion of the investigation, and depending on the action taken by that jurisdiction, the (Lawrence Police) Department will take appropriate action as to the status of Officer Gonzalez. We don’t expect this to be very long.”
Gonzalez returned to Lawrence after the alleged incident. If indicted, he would face extradition to Florida and could lose his paycheck of about $60,000 a year pending the outcome of the charges.
Gonzalez is the fourth officer to be put on leave in Lawrence’s police department since July 2010. One returned last week, although he has been stripped of his gun. Three remain on leave, including Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, who was indicted for fraud, bribery and extortion in September for allegedly transferring ownership of 13 police vehicles to a car deal politically allied with the mayor. He is collecting his $140,000 salary.
Gonzalez and Detective Alan Andrews, president of the Lawrence Patrolman’s Association, could not be reached yesterday for comment yesterday.
Gonzalez, 48, joined the city’s Housing Authority police force in 1986, four years after graduating from the Greater Lawrence Regional Vocational Technical School, according to his Facebook page. He joined the city police force in 1988.
He lives in Boston, earned a degree in legal studies last year from Kaplan University, an on-line school, and has plans to start work this month on a law degree at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, his Facebook page says.
Romero said Gonzalez had a clear record with the Lawrence Police Department.
Collecting paychecks These Lawrence cops also have been put on paid leave since 2010: Patrolman Daron Fraser, arrested in July 2010 and convicted in 2011 of domestic assault and battery for beating his then girlfriend. He was paid for 26 of the 29 months he was not working and returned to duty last week, although he is no longer allowed to carry a gun. He earns more than $60,000. Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, who managed Mayor William Lantigua's 2009 mayoral campaign, was charged with fraud, bribery and extortion in September for allegedly transferring ownership of 13 police vehicles to a car deal politically allied with the mayor. Still on leave and collecting his $140,000 salary. Patrolman P.J. Lopez, indicted in September for allegedly arranging to have an unnamed towing company haul away vehicles he ticketed in exchange for a "stream of benefits" from the company, including a $4,000 snow plow. He is charged with bribery and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to federal investigators. Still on leave and collecting his $62,000 salary.